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Grown in Minnesota: Nick Jonas’ road from MCLA to NLL

Growing up in Minnesota, Nick Jonas attended Swarm games, eventually he would get drafted by organization and signed to a two year deal before he ever stepped on the floor. Follow Nick on his journey to the National Lacrosse League.

Photo contribution: Nick Jonas

While watching the NLL Entry Draft this season there was one name that caused a series of mixed emotions within me. This year was overwhelming from all of the Minnesota Swarm’s draft choices. I actually knew everyone they selected, and it’s been said that they “won” the draft this year by making so many moves for big names like Logan Schuss, Cam Flint, Jason Noble, Scott Jones and Zach Palmer. Well I thought I did, until the final round…

When I saw the Swarm pop up again with the 52nd overall choice, late in the sixth round, I thought “who could they possibly be going after at this point?” Minnesota made moves to get the 52nd pick from Edmonton via Calgary, and with that selection the chose Nicholas Jonas, of the University of Minnesota. At first, I said “who?” But then I noticed he was an MCLA kid, and that’s amazing! Then I learned about how hard this kid worked to earn the opportunity he was given.

This made Nick the only player selected in the draft to come from a MCLA school, and oh yeah did I mention, Nick didn’t play real box until the end of college? He’s listed at 6’4″ 240 lbs, I don’t see size being this kid’s issue. I caught up with Nick this week after hearing so many awesome things about his character from the Swarm organization. I hope we can see more from him in the future.

Where and when did you get your start in game of lacrosse?

My start was my sophomore year in High School. I was looking for a spring sport to play, and was actually on my way to the locker room for the first Track & Field informational session, figuring I might as well do shot put because then I could keep lifting and stay in shape for Football next fall. Right before I entered, a buddy of mine (the goalie for our lacrosse team) caught me and asked what I was doing. I told him my plans, and he said “stop right there.” He then told me St. Louis Park was having their first lacrosse open practice that night at the local pavilion; nothing was needed and they would give me a stick to use.

I showed up that night, INSTANTLY loved it, and really picked up cradling and shooting fast. It was this night where I was also given the Oriole nation nickname “freight” as in “freight-train” because I as a sophomore was as big as the seniors. The rest is history.

Did you grow up playing hockey? If so did that have anything to do with your desire to play box?

Nick Jonas Swarm MCLA Minnesota 3

I grew up playing pond hockey with all the guys that played organized high school hockey. I’ve always wanted to play organized hockey, however having divorced parents that live an hour apart makes it very hard to accommodate a crazy hockey schedule. So I stuck to the local rink. My desire to play box lacrosse more stems from the fact that I couldn’t get enough after college and wanted to see what was next.

When was your first time trying out box lacrosse?

Nick Jonas Swarm MCLA Minnesota 2

It was actually during the open practice sessions in high school. In late March, the local pavilion would melt the ice down and put turf in its place, much like box areas around the country. Since the city of St. Louis Park wouldn’t let us practice on the snow… thinking it would ruin the grass at the park where we practiced, this was what we got to use. At the end of practice each night we got to scrimmage, box style, 5-on-5. Last season, as a part of the UofM Gopher Lacrosse squad, we were given the opportunity to practice with the Swarm guys every Wednesday in the afternoon for about two months.

Did you feel like you could hang with the Swarm guys, or were you intimidated at first?

Once my school assignments stopped taking so much of my time, I went to the first one not knowing what to expect. I knew they were really skilled because I’ve watched quite a few Swarm games, but I didn’t know what they would be like in person — I thought they would be standoffish and full of themselves like a lot of professional athletes. I’ve got to say, I was completely wrong. They are some of the most stand-up and welcoming people I’ve ever met, not to mention hilarious at times as well.

Why choose the University of Minnesota over an NCAA school?

Nick Jonas Swarm MCLA Minnesota 1

I chose Minnesota for a few reasons.

First of all, it was what they offered. Before even looking into whether Minnesota had a lacrosse program or not, I needed to choose an accredited school that specialized in what I wanted to learn about. For me, that was the IT & Computer field, since I already liked. Knowing that at the time I entered college, the IT field was one that was growing & was projected to keep growing, that was where my best chance at finding a job I enjoyed was. It just to happened that the U of M had a top-notch IT program. Next, was cost. Not having much for funds made the choice of where to go a bit easier. I knew because of reciprocity that I needed to go to school in a state either in, or bordering Minnesota. I looked around, compared schools, and found that what I needed was 15 minutes from where I grew up. Last, what solidified my choosing The U as the school for me was the fact that they had a lacrosse program. I didn’t know how well known it was, but even that they had one was enough.

Growing up, did you attend many Swarm games?

Over the years I’ve attended quite a few Swarm games. The year John Arlotta bought the yeam (5 yrs ago) was when I attended the most. They donated quite a few tickets to the St. Louis Park Lacrosse Organization to help us sell them & get our feet off the ground (being a brand new team and all). Since I was in high school, I had lots of time to go see the Swarm play, I loved the entire atmosphere, and still can’t get enough. We actually had the opportunity to play our rival high school in box lacrosse 3 hours before a Swarm game. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I’ll never forget stepping foot on the floor and looking up at that huge scoreboard dreaming of one day doing it in front of thousands of fans for the Champions Cup title.

How does it make you feel, being the only MCLA product selected in the NLL draft this season?

Nick Jonas Swarm MCLA Minnesota 4

The feeling is really indescribable. When i heard my name, I couldn’t help thinking how surreal the it was that I was selected. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I am a professional lacrosse player! However, it makes me feel extremely good that all the hard work and determination I have to make my dream a reality is coming to fruition. I am just very very grateful for the opportunity that the Swarm have given me, and I’m going to make the most of it every time I set foot on the floor.

How do you think your experience in the MCLA has prepared you to play in a confined area, on concrete, with grown men?

Well just like any freshman entering his first collegiate lacrosse program, you get an immediate realization that you are not the top-dog you once were in high school. The game is faster, the opponents are meaner, and you need to be a lot tougher. I expect the NLL to be a lot the same. However, I’m excited for the opportunity, because it’s a new game to master, new sets & techniques to learn, and I’m a big fan of the fact that cross-checking is legal and encouraged!

How do you plan to help set yourself apart from a pretty spectacular draft class?

My work ethic & determination. Mostly, I come from a low-key background. I have never been the all-star that everyone is talking about. There may be guys who have more talent than me, have a better field awareness than I do, but I dare you to find a harder working guy who puts more time & effort into perfecting his craft than I do.

What’s next for Nick Jonas, on and off the field?

Nick Jonas Swarm MCLA Minnesota 5

First, I’m making that Swarm roster. Whether that means I’m on the practice roster or starting lineup, I want to learn everything about the box game while I can. Being on either roster would mean I can learn from the best and practice with the team. After that, I would REALLY love a shot at playing for the LXM or MLL. However, still unsure how to go about that one. But off the field, I’m looking forward to spending some downtime with the family.

What is currently playing on your iPod?

I’m a huge Drake fan. I loved his mixtape before he even started selling it, and of course I’ve followed him ever since.

But I’m definitely a rap/rock guy like : Bullet for My Valentine, Eminem, TechN9ne, Wale, Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine, Machine Gun Kelly, Volbeat, Korn

What is your stick set up?

Head: Brine Clutch X

Mesh/Pocket: Throne Mesh – strung up myself

Shaft: Epoch Dragonfly C32B (box shaft)

Do you catch much crap about having the same name as a member of a popular boy band?

Jonas on Jonas crime
Photoshop credit: me

Not really, I don’t mind the Jonas Brother reference now and then. Hey, if it helps people remember who I am, no big deal. But after too many Jo-Bro references it gets a little tiring. I am on a mission to set a name for myself. So when you look up Nick Jonas on Google, you get a lacrosse player, not a boy band member who’s life is filled with drama. Plus, I’m older so I had it first!

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